As a parent, I often ask myself: am I fully engaged with my child’s education? Could I be more involved? What can I do to help my child achieve more?
Numerous studies have shown that parental engagement has a positive impact on pupil achievement in schools. If you take this one step further, these achievements prove to be even more significant where parents and teachers collaborate to improve children’s educational experiences.
How can we work together to make this happen?
At the National Parents Council, Primary Ireland Conference earlier this year, founder of People for Education, Annie Kidder stated: “I might not be present in the school or turn up to all the school events, but that does not mean I am not engaged. I am a very engaged parent!”
What Annie may regard as parental engagement may differ to another parent, student or teacher’s perception. Whatever the interpretation, I think we can all agree that the common goal for every teacher and parent is to provide children with the best opportunities to learn and succeed in the classroom, and for this to be reinforced and supported at home.
As parents, we should be involved in every step of our child’s school journey, as we play a hugely influential role in their development. A survey revealed that 79 per cent of parents wanted to support their child’s school, with a further 97 per cent believing they should be consulted when big changes are proposed to how a school is run. There are huge benefits that can be drawn from demonstrating to children that parents truly care and are invested in their futures, both in their learning and attainment, and what can be achieved by teachers and parents working as part of a team.
Understandably, we don’t all have the time to attend every school meeting and event. However for me, it’s about strengthening the relationship between school and home, to make sure parents are involved, and are able to provide the right support for their child both in, and away, from the classroom.
Have you ever considered joining a parent body?
Maintaining dialogue between school and home is important in ensuring everyone is working toward the same goal, and feels involved in the school’s progress. 96 per cent of those parents we surveyed felt that being consulted by their school makes them feel included in their child’s education. This suggests that schools should make the most of consulting and engaging parents as early on as possible, in order to reduce the chance of any issues arising at a later stage.
Bodies are an invaluable way of engaging parents and encouraging them to be proactive in improving the school, and consequently their child’s experiences while at school. Although PTAs are predominantly known for their dedicated fundraising efforts – raising on average £9,000 a year for their school – this is just one aspect of the role they can play in a school. They can also be very successful at developing relationships and bringing the school and local community closer together.
Parent bodies are a useful platform from which headteachers and governors can reach out and consult with parents on policies and updates in relation to the school. It’s also beneficial to have one so that school events and activities can be set up, bringing all parties together in one place, creating a strong sense of community. It will give parents and teachers the opportunity to talk in an open, less formal fashion, and will also show students that their school is a place not just to be associated with learning and education, but rather, an all-inclusive environment.
Parental engagement needs to be embraced throughout the whole school in order to help parents and teachers work together towards a mutually beneficial relationship. After all, we all want the best for our children, so perhaps there are lessons we could learn from one another?